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Shehbaz’s embarrassment 

It may seem rather bizarre but PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has appointed a spokesman for himself. This was apart from the party’s own spokesperson and chief whip Marriyum Aurangzeb, showing his annoyance and differences with the party.

The development comes after an embarrassing episode when Shehbaz Sharif issued a statement on the formation of ‘national government’ but found no takers. In fact, his own party had to clarify that the president’s statement was his opinion. Shehbaz was buoyed by the PDM’s success rally in Karachi and probably spoke in jest when he quipped that the solution to national issues demanded the formation of a consensus national government.

The following day, PML-N spokesperson issued a statement that the party president had made a ‘passing remark’ based on his ‘personal opinion’. The idea was neither party policy nor was it endorsed by the self-exiled supremo Nawaz Sharif. The statement is unusual, to say the least, and shows how disoriented the PML-N remains that the party’s president is aloof of the policy and the party has to contradict the president’s statement.

It can only be wondered what prompted Shehbaz Sharif to float the idea of a national government when the incumbent PTI government has completed three years of its tenure and is on course to complete its term. The concept of a national government is not new but is often not practical. There are neither any takers nor others to endorse it. Now Shehbaz has to issue clarification, probably through his new spokesperson, on its viability.

The idea is also unlikely to gain traction among the opposition parties. The PPP parted ways with the PDM and left the movement in a quandary. The JUI-F is seeking clarification as Maulana Fazlur Rehman wants to oust the government through agitation. In such circumstances, the PML-N should reach a consensus within its own ranks before issuing a policy statement.

Shehbaz Sharif on his part should focus on the strategy for the next election, or point the government’s shortcomings. This hints at factionalism within his own party and shows that some forces within the party are pulling the shots and superseding the party president and dismissing his remarks.